Like most of us, over the last few months I’ve kept shopping trips to an absolute bare minimum. If it’s not essential, I’m not going out for it. And strangely, this new way of existence is something I’ve become quite comfortable with. Yet is it sustainable? After the government relaxed lockdown restrictions which enabled the shops to open up again, one thing is certain; retail ‘therapy’ is a thing of the past. Which was what it was all about for me. The thought of one-way systems round shopping malls has absolutely no appeal to me, so I will be steering clear of any kind of large shopping centres and being very selective in which shops I do choose to visit. And for that, I have a plan.
As I was flicking through a guide to mindfulness the other day, I came across a meditation which is just perfect for our new way of shopping; queue meditation. Now before you lose interest and stop reading, you don’t have to be even remotely Buddhist to do this, in fact, the less Buddhist you are the better as you really will find this incredibly beneficial. If it helps, think of it less as a meditation and more as a way of taking time out from an experience we all find incredibly frustrating – queuing. Being realistic, this is something we all need to get used to, so any tips or tricks to make that easier have to be a bonus, right?
So here we go, next time you find yourself in one of those frustrating COVID queues, instead of allowing your frustrations and annoyance to build up, use this as an opportunity to ‘check-in’ with your mind and ask yourself:
- What is going through my mind?
- What sensations are there in my body?
- What emotional reactions and impulses am I aware of?
If you find that you are swept along with a need to ‘get on’ and frustrated that things are going more slowly than you had expected, you are more than likely in ‘doing’ mode. Which is fine, the mind is just doing what it naturally does. However, by being mindful, we accept that not all experiences are pleasant, and this simple act of acceptance will allow you to tease apart the two major flavours of suffering – primary and secondary.
Primary suffering is the initial stressor, such as the frustration of having to queue and the general slow pace of shopping in a COVID world.
Secondary suffering is all the emotional turbulence that follows in its wake, such as anger, frustration and anxiety as well as the random thoughts and feelings that so often accompany these. Try to identify these as well as the primary frustration and then try to see if you can accept these emotions as being relevant to the moment you are in, without trying to force them to go away. Be mindful of the moment and sit with any accompanying emotions.
I know I for one will be using this tool quite a lot in the weeks and months ahead.